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Microsoft keeps to Bill Gates’ roots of cybersecurity

Mar 15, 20174 mins
Advanced Persistent ThreatsCloud ComputingCloud Security

A look at the software giant's startling cybersecurity statistics.

Microsoft, founded in 1975, describes itself as the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, and its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

A Microsoft By the Numbers page on its website features key statistics they want people to know about the company. For instance: Skype Translator can translate voice calls in nine languages; More than 400 million devices are running Windows 10; 80 percent of the Fortune 500 is on the Microsoft Cloud; 40 percent of Azure revenue comes from startups and ISVs; and Outlook has more than 400 million users.

The Microsoft homepage features Office 365, Xbox, Windows Ink, Surface Book, Windows 10, Visual Studio, and Microsoft Cloud. Their site navigation offers links to software apps and hardware devices.

Microsoft’s Important Dates is a timeline from inception to present highlighting its major product announcements, key technology initiatives, philanthropic activities, and major acquisitions.

What’s missing? Cybersecurity.

Microsoft makes no mention of cybersecurity in these materials – effectively its elevator pitch to governments, schools, businesses, consumers, and the media. But, that’s nothing less than a branding oversight. The iconic Redmond company is clearly on a mission to secure every person and every organization on the planet.

Hacking is part of Microsoft’s DNA. Bill Gates, now 61, is a reformed hacker. An article originally published in The Sydney Morning Herald on March 17, 1986, tells the story of a young Bill Gates, and his affection for computer hacking.

When Gates was just 15-years-old, he was caught hacking into a major corporation’s computer and as a consequence he was forced to give up computing for an entire year.

Years later, in 2002, the legendary co-founder of Microsoft sent an email on trustworthy computing to every one of its full-time employees, in which he described the company’s new strategy emphasizing security in its products.

John Thompson, Microsoft’s chairman, was the CEO of Symantec for 10 years, during which time he helped transform the company into a leader in security. Since leaving Symantec, Thompson has been fighting hackers by investing in security start-ups.

Make no bones about it, Microsoft knows security. Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer, recently posted a blog chock full of information on Microsoft’s startling cybersecurity business and statistics.

Microsoft’s Cyber Stats:

  • Microsoft has 3,500 security professionals globally. (The company employs more than 114,000 people as of the fiscal year ending Jun. 30, 2016.)
  • Microsoft is spending $1 billion annually in the security field.
  • Microsoft’s data centers are connected to over a billion computing end points and receive over a trillion data points every day. Advanced Threat Protection alone processes 6 billion emails each day. This provides the foundation for world-class early warning systems to detect cybersecurity attacks.
  • The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) is a reconnaissance arm, sifting through data streams from more than 200 cloud services and third-party feeds. Using machine learning, behavioral analysis and forensic techniques, this dedicated team creates a real-time picture – a security intelligence graph – of cyber activity related to advanced and persistent threats to Microsoft and its customers.
  • The Cyber Defense Operations Center (CDOC) is what Smith calls an “eyes on glass” command center staffed 24x7x365 by rotating teams of security and engineering professionals from across Microsoft’s product and services portfolio.
  • Then there’s the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU), an international team of attorneys, investigators, data scientists, engineers, analysts and business professionals working together to transform the fight against cybercrime.

Want to know more? This search on ‘cybersecurity’ on displays information on its enterprise security products and consulting services, a cybersecurity blog and other resources.

Global spending on cybersecurity products and services is predicted to exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the next five years, from 2017 to 2021 – a market fueled by cybercrime damages that are tracked to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Microsoft may have been late to the internet party, but they are right on time to the cybersecurity party – even if their homepage isn’t saying so (yet).


Steve Morgan is the founder and CEO at Cybersecurity Ventures and editor in chief of the Cybersecurity Market Report. The Cybersecurity Market Report is published quarterly and covers the business of cybersecurity, including global market sizing and industry forecasts from consolidated research by IT analyst firms, emerging trends, employment, the federal sector, hot companies to watch, notable M&A, investment and IPO activity, and more.